by Robert M. Traxler
Memorial Day was Monday. It is supposed to be a day to remember those who died in the service to our nation, a day we have observed in some form from the end of our revolution against England to today.
It has been said that history starts the day you are born, a statement that has some truth; most folks do not know or care about ancestors who served in the years before we were born. Most Americans know of an ancestor who served in World War 2, a politically correct war. Some do not remember people who served in the conflicts during the Cold War, Korea, Viet Nam, the last two being the largest; however, tens of thousands died in “brush fire wars” in Africa, Asia, Central and South America or the folks who died in wars before WWII are forgotten.
Most all of us have family who fought on one side of the Civil War. Normed for today’s population, the body count was over 7,000,000, and some historians use the 9,000,000 figure. During that war every man in some counties between the ages of 16 and 60 died, especially in the Confederacy. Most of us never bother to look for ancestors who served more than a generation or two ago, we just do not care.
Remembering those who paid the ultimate price for being an American has a special meaning for me. Having attended a military high school and college, followed by more than 20 years in the Army, there is a long list of lost friends. Being an Army brat also added to the list; military brats, the sons and daughters of serving families, have a higher percentage of folks who enter service than the general population.
Family members who served in past generations from the revolution to today can be found by most of us whose family goes back a few generations in our nation.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine brought back memories of the bad old days of the Cold War. As a dependent in Germany after WWII, I remember as a kindergartener putting my Smoky the Bear stuffed toy in my bugout bag every night, worried that if we had to flee Germany in the middle of the night in the face of a Russian invasion, Smoky would be left behind. Military kids think that way, so forgive me for advocating we help the Ukrainians aginst the Russians.
Memorial Day has turned into a day for grilling out and going to sales at our favorite big box stores. So be it, no one can make us remember or even look for a link to our military dead family and friends.
Truth be known, bothering to look for ancestors to honor or remembering those we knew is not as much fun as shopping or eating out, and history started with our births, so who cares about the ones who died for our nation, especially in conflicts before our births?
Ask yourself whether you spent time on Memorial Day thinking of a friend or relative who died for us, probably not; most of us were too busy shopping or grilling out. My opinion